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Luke

I posed the question to you last spring, where do you find your sunshine? This spring I’ve been asking a similar thing – but this time, a question posed only to myself.

I’m one of those who feels life deeply. At times it seems as though I could burst apart, a sparkling, confetti-ed explosion of  joy; at other times, I fear I may be crushed by the boulder of a weight behind my ribs. My husband says it’s the result of living with an open heart. Maybe, I don’t know, but I do know it’s not in me to do it differently. This Spring our dear golden dog Luke, who we’ve shared home and life with for 13 years, suddenly grew very very old. We’ll lose him soon. He’s been  a true friend, a mind-reader, a leaner, sun-seeker, a soulful soul, a dear and constant companion. We’ve shared so many playful happy times, a deep and mutual affection, and now we share a suffering. This we do, because we love, and suffering and love are bound.

monsieur_luke-1

I’ve grown very quiet here. I haven’t had words or images to share. It hasn’t only been Luke. (Though mostly him.) Life, in its various aspects, has called me away. And of course, life does that. It’s unfortunate (I can say this now) that I’ve felt guilty for my extended silence. But I want to claim  as good and right: that each of us show compassion and kindness not only to others but to ourselves; that we allow and grant ourselves our needs – be they rest, or silence or celebration. Be they a walk in the woods, the challenge of a mountain or the simple need to bury our faces in golden fur.

And too, may we allow ourselves to have questions without answers, and to rest in that uncomfortable state of unknowing until we know. And when we do, may we act out of love.

Blessings to you all, and thank you for your presence in my life.

♥ Antoinette – spree

64 Comments Post a comment
  1. Jeem #

    I will have never ever spent enough time with “our” Luke and I’m sure you feel the same.
    My blood pressure always went way down when I was in the presence of such a wonderful old soul.

    April 30, 2013
    • It’s true Jeem…Luke has healing powers. Always has been a dog good for the heart. And no, “enough” would never come.

      May 1, 2013
  2. jacquie #

    thank you for such a peaceful and wise post.

    i have an elderly golden who i’m going through the same journey with and i feel for you.animals teach us so much don’t they? if we can just open our eyes, ears and hearts enough …. and no there never is enough time with our beloved animals.

    take care of your luke, your husband and yourself in whatever form that might be.

    April 30, 2013
    • Jacquie – I so appreciate your kind words! Our lives are so enriched, and on so many levels, by living with our non-human friends. I can’t imagine the lessons we’ve learned beside them could have been learned any other way. How blessed are we!! Again, thank you so much!

      May 1, 2013
  3. Oh Ani … I am with you right now and feel what you are going through – an open heart is the only way to live and your dear companion knew no other way. Love and strength through this time I send to you Xxx L

    April 30, 2013
    • Lesley, your words have made me cry…and tears are good. Thank you so dearly for your compassionate heart and friendship!! It means so much! xxx!

      May 1, 2013
  4. Hi I’m a friend of Ashley’s from our church. I have met your there and I began following you because I own a bakery and I love your blog. You will always have a Luke size hole in your heart that nothing will fill, but your life is richer for having known him. We have a 14 year old pug, Lucy, who sometime in the near future will move to her new home in pet heaven. She and Luke will probably meet on the other side. Pet heaven my not be theologically sound but I choose to believe in it. We have had many pets over the years since my husband is a veterinarian. Our pets have always been our “other children”. We are crazy !!! pet people. Our pets always have people names. I pray for God’s grace and peace for you as your mourn Luke’s decline and his final passing. Since you are such a beautiful photographer I suggest you continue to photograph him now just the way he is during his final days with you. You will be happy later you have those pictures. We have done that with our pets and the photos are incredibly precious to us now. Blessings

    April 30, 2013
    • Now you must tell me your name!! (I can’t call you pizazz can I?) Oh, a 14 year old pug Lucy!! My brother has one – they’re darling, aren’t they? If we humans are “fit” enough for heaven, surely animals are! Some I’ve known and loved have had the very purest of hearts! We have one other dog at home and when we adopt another it will be with the thought of sharing it as a therapy dog. We too are crazy in-love with animals and count ourselves as blessed to be trusted and loved by them! Thank you so very much for your kind sweet words!!! (And please tell me your name! I’ll have to visit you at your bakery!)

      May 1, 2013
  5. You are doing exactly what I think you will find best and healthiest and most meaningful and purposeful, and I can only wish for you that it will provide the comfort and wholeness that Luke needs and that you and your loved ones need. You are in my heart.
    xoxo
    Kathryn

    April 30, 2013
    • Kathryn, the depth of your heart has always touched me. Over and over again, I’m grateful for you. Thanks so much for reaching out today! xxx!

      May 1, 2013
  6. Love to hear from you …. thought that I had lost my following with you and checked up on you two days ago … we all need our breaks from this world too. I have lost a wonderful and 2 fantastic cats during my life time so far … know exactly how you feel. This world can wait …
    We will be here when you need us again.
    Just love this photo … reminds me so much about my dog, Littleman. Beautiful post.

    April 30, 2013
    • Viveka, what an encouraging word! Look for me to need you again, but for now, your kind words are so welcome!! bless you.

      May 1, 2013
      • I will be here …. when ever you need a friend. *smile …

        May 2, 2013
  7. Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! What a precious precious companion animal is Lukeyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy … such a sweet sweet sweet loving lil daw … i sorrow for your sadness, Ani

    April 30, 2013
    • Oh Poco! You have spent days and nights with our Luke. You know. A rare rare soul. Cannot imagine this home without him…and yet…
      More love will come. There’s no end to that! bless you sweet friend

      May 1, 2013
  8. Mama, the love and wisdom that come through here in each word…this makes me want to weep. How we all love Luke, and yet how dear to see the ways he has found his purpose, his comfort so very much in you.
    What you say about love and suffering being bound — oh, yes, how I agree with you here. You hurt so deeply because you love so deeply…I’ve known this to be true about you many, many times. And to see you extend grace not only to your readers, but to yourself makes me exhale deep. Most certainly take all the time you need for all that is most important. I love you so much, Mama. (I must also say, what a most dapper dog. Such a darling photo of Lukey.)

    April 30, 2013
    • thank you my dear sweet girl! you get it, and i’m so deeply grateful !
      and yes, Lukey is a fine dresser!

      May 1, 2013
  9. Sometimes showing compassion to ourselves is the hardest thing of all. I’m glad you’ve been able to do that during this trying time. I’m so sorry to hear that your dear dog is nearing the end of his sojourn with you; comforting him and coping with the ache in your heart and those of your family is more important right now than blogging. The time will come when that will return; in the meantime, take care and give that lovely, charming Luke a hug for me.

    April 30, 2013
    • Luke loved that hug from you Mar! Thank you so much for your compassion. Straight to my heart! so grateful…

      May 1, 2013
  10. Oh I feel for you. People who live life with extremes of emotions (yes, I’m one too) never feel boredom or time hanging on their hands. Life is a rollercoaster for them/us but with the joy also comes great sadness and those Luke sized holes in our hearts will always be there, but patched together with the happy memories too. Sending you happy and peaceful thoughts, bless you.

    April 30, 2013
    • Tanya, though I don’t know you well (of course) I had figured out that you are woman of passion, of deep-heartedness. It’s not the “easiest” life, but I know you wouldn’t trade it either. It’s an incredible (incomparable) privilege to have these sorts of relationships with animals, I know you know. So we soak up all we can while we can, give all we can while they’re with us, and count ourselves, every day, blessed! Thank you so very much for sharing with me!!

      May 1, 2013
  11. The love and honesty here, with the suffering and the clarity, are also deeply bound.
    It seems to me, in your state of ‘unknowing,’ you have touched into the part that truly does Know.

    Maybe we’re always trying to know the wrong things. For nothing has crossed my path lately that compares with this unknowing Knowing expressed by you. What else, really, is there, than to be where we are, full-hearted? Even when the reality is not at all what we want.

    Would you look at that moist, willing face? To me, Luke has always held a reflection of your tender softness, Ani. And the two of you have always seemed to just go together.

    April 30, 2013
    • my dearest friend. thank you! thank you.

      May 17, 2013
  12. In the same way as one is acutely aware of the missing sun on a cloudy day, I’ve been aware that your posts have not appeared for awhile but just as when the sun returns it is all the more welcome, your spirit and words will also be gratefully received when the proper time arrives. Luke is a beautiful dog–I believe I can see the love he has for you in his eyes in your revealing photo of him. Cats and dogs are individuals, for sure, as much as people are, and Luke is an exceptionally expressive and intelligent being, as I perceive him.. I’m been extremely fortunate–blessed, I’d say–to know a few such animals in my own life and while tears appear when it is time to say goodby, there is no question that one’s life has been greatly enriched by the companionship of such marvelous creatures. Looking forward to when the clouds abate for you and the sun comes out to shine on all of us again.

    April 30, 2013
    • Thank you so much Joe, for such kind and caring comments. Maybe soon those clouds will part enough to see my way back. It would touch me to think that I’ve been missed. Thanks again.

      May 17, 2013
  13. Pets give daily sunshine and put things in perspective. Whenever I am having a bad day, I come home to our pet bunny and have snuggles. Pets needs are so simple and their joy hinders on so little. I feel sad for people who have never had pets. I’ve met people that do not see the point in owning a pet. They surely are missing out on lifetime of daily joy.

    April 30, 2013
    • Dear Bunny – I’m sorry – I thought that I’d replied to this kind comment you left! Please excuse me. The joys and the comfort of living with an animal are un paralleled as far as I’m concerned. Clearly, you and I (and millions) agree! Thank you so much for taking the time to comment.

      May 17, 2013
  14. kelly loggan #

    Oh Ani, how this does speak my heart today. Luke is one of a kind with God in the very heart of him. Such a deep well of a soul he has. And you, too my dear friend. I am crying as I have read this and type these words, and I know you know. Thank you for touching me deep with this tender sharing. I love you dearly. your kelly

    April 30, 2013
    • thank you so dearly for this Kelly! and yes, you do truly know the heart of Luke. xo

      May 17, 2013
  15. Life (wish for the italics option here) does it, indeed. And what a beautiful boy.

    April 30, 2013
    • Yes, Michelle, beautiful. More than pictures or words can say.

      May 6, 2013
  16. Your words remind me of Kahlil Gibran’s thoughts about joy and sorrow, and how inseparable they truly are. I can feel the pain in your words for this time of passage with your dear Luke, who has clearly been loved and cherished and given it back tenfold. You are wise to take all the time you need to honor his love and companionship, to feel loss and to just be. Wishing you comfort and peace.

    April 30, 2013
    • I’m Very grateful to you Betsy for such kind and compassionate words! Thank you from the corners of my heart.

      May 6, 2013
  17. I’m so sorry, Antoinette, I know all too well this path on which you find yourself. There is no need to rush things. You will know what’s best for Luke, just as you always have. You and your family are in my thoughts and I, too, hope you have comfort and peace.

    April 30, 2013
    • John, there were many kind and compassionate words left for me after this post on Luke. My heart just couldn’t answer all that kindness at once. Please know, your thoughtfulness has always been a gift I’ve been so grateful to receive. Take good care, my friend.

      May 6, 2013
  18. Antoinette, I think that everyone that has read your post will know what you are going through. An open heart is also someone who has generosity of spirit, which is something special. Everyone who reads your blog will all be waiting for you when you are ready.

    May 1, 2013
    • Maria – please excuse me for taking so long to respond to your thoughtful comment! I was touched by your own generosity of spirit, I hope you know! many thanks!

      May 6, 2013
  19. Luke looks such a wise, cool dog, with panache, so French. All the best,

    May 1, 2013
    • Janina, panache, charm, wisdom, and the largest gentlest of hearts! He’s been quite an example!

      May 6, 2013
  20. Dear Antoinette,
    I am so sorry for what you are going through. You put it perfectly when you said that suffering and love are bound for they are indeed. Please take all the time your need and we will always be here, a heart beat away.
    I lost my pet bird last year and it was a friendship measured in months not in years but I know a glimpse of the pain you are going through, they reach out and touch your very soul with their unconditional love, their trust, and forgiveness. They understand you, they feel you, you don’t need words, explanation or appology…
    All I can say is,take your time to find the answer. Don’t rush it, for in matters of the heart rushing often leads to regrets. Sending you warm thoughts and a hug and I just know you will find the best answer for you and for luke.

    May 1, 2013
    • Oh, my dear friend, Sawsan! Comments like yours, so steeped in kindness and compassion, break my heart wide open. That’s a good thing. It’s a sometimes hard thing. But I treasure it! YES, to everything you said about all that comes to us by way of caring for an animal friend. I’m so sorry about your bird! I had several as a girl and know the loss can be deep. Maybe Sawsan, it’s just what life is about, love after love, loss after loss, but always, always the love, ever-widening our hearts through breaking open.
      Thank you again. Your words are treasured.

      May 6, 2013
  21. I was drawn to your post by the charming photo. Right now, I am struggling to type because I am not only in tears, but sobbing — our Portie of 16 years at my side, but she will be leaving us soon, like Luke. We never have them long enough. Enjoy the time you have left with Luke.

    May 1, 2013
    • OHHH! How tender and kind of you! Your own tears mixing here with mine. I’m struck by the words “long enough.” I’ve said them often, especially recently.We don’t get to decide “long enough”, do we? So we love them with all our might for as long as we have. My heart goes out to you for the friend you too will be losing. May memories, and all that love, wrap you! May you somehow find comfort. (and thank you so much for stopping in and leaving your sweet words behind.)

      May 6, 2013
  22. Oh Ani! I distinctly remember my first walk with Luke at your previous house. I think he was three then but I am not sure. He took me down skyline drive. Me barely holding on to the leash while getting pulled along with his friendly powerful puppy pull. When I had trouble hurtling along, he would stop and look at me with his eyes imploring “come on!” We went into the woods for a while but I was clearly out of my league so we made a hasty retreat (with his cooperation!). His spirit captured my heart on that walk. You have magically captured his spirit in this photo. Much love and blessings to Luke and you.

    May 1, 2013
    • Amit, taking you for a walk has long been a highlight in Lukey’s life! He loved showing you around, and especially liked that you didn’t have much experience with dogs and therefore hadn’t heard who was supposed to be walking whom. Thank you dear sweet friend for the blessings and love. We’re in need! Aren’t we all! xo, Ani

      May 6, 2013
  23. deb #

    I am deeply touched by your expression of love and sadness about Luke. You know how fond I am of Luke and Gracie, and of the joy I feel being greeted with their love and excitement. How you adorned dear Luke in the photograph speaks so sweetly of your closeness. His adoring eyes looking up at you really got me. I agree with JT of how deeply you love, and feel blessed to have had your example in my life. I love you and pray for you in this season, dear friend.

    May 2, 2013
    • I can’t tell you how greatly I appreciate your friendship and compassion Deb! And Luke was always So happy to see you come to the door…he’s a glutton for lovin’! me too, which is one reason we’ve gotten along so well. :) love you Deb.

      May 6, 2013
  24. Earning a dog”s unconditional love is a gift beyond the understanding of anyone who has not had this experience. The terrible downside is the short life span of these cherished pets. I share your sense of loss, and feel the mourning you are already experiencing. But you gave Luke love, and a warm, loving home. He felt your love and responded.

    Now you will have to make peace with reality and have to say “goodbye.” I am so sorry. Reality is definitely overrated!

    May 10, 2013
    • Your opening sentence here Ronnie – so true. You clearly know what it is to love this way. Who knows where this love between Luke and me started? Was it from me first or from him? All I know for sure is that it echoed back and forth, and grew and grew. And it grows still. I sat by my dad’s side as he left this place and I’ll do the same with Luke…and both will have been a privilege beyond measure. I appreciate so much your compassion, Ronnie!

      May 17, 2013
  25. Oh Spree! I’m so sad for you. I know the sadness you feel. We lost our sweet boy a year ago, Elwood our Airedale. He was 12. The last night of his life, I slept on the sofa to be near him. As I was sleeping, he walked over and laid his head on my chest, as if to say, it’s ok Mom. I still tear up when I talk about him. He was part of our family, raised with our two girls. I don’t think that love ever leaves your heart. Luke is one lucky pup to have been so cherished and loved. Hugs to you Spree!

    May 14, 2013
    • Oh Karista! Your Elwood.
      You might have guessed I’d cry at this. (I’m so grateful for your sharing!) Reading your words here, I feel what a loss this was (and is) to you, your husband, your girls. that tender final night of yours together, his telling you it was ok. I do so understand! There is no question but that they offer consolation! And no, love never leaves us. I do so appreciate the words you’ve left here for me Karista, and for the hug which I so gladly receive!

      May 17, 2013
  26. I just popped into to see how you are doing and came across this post – your words, or rather your husbands words “it’s the result of living with an open heart” paints a picture for me, it tells me so much about you, and I can’t help but think if you live with your heart then you really are living, experiencing what life is all about.
    Take care my friend

    May 20, 2013
    • Claire…I so appreciate your kind words…AND your friendship! Thank you very much for stopping in…truly good to see your smiling face! I’ll see you soon at your place…

      May 23, 2013
  27. I’ve been thinking of you lately Spree, wondering how you are doing.
    From one open heart to another, shooting a big hug to you.
    xxx

    May 22, 2013
    • I caught your hug Brydie, just as I needed a good one! Thank you for your tenderness! It so helps! xxx

      May 23, 2013
  28. Our Henry was Your Luke… and now we begin this new chapter with Otis and find it hard to believe how much love we already feel in such a short time.
    Love deep and be ready to let go when the time comes- that too is a gift.
    best xox wendy

    And I think we all understand the longer absences… we have a real time life that sometimes requires our full attention. The beauty is we are allowed to come and go if needed. x

    May 22, 2013
    • Wendy, Yes…I well remember reading of your Henry and I so felt for you..and then the bounding Otis leaped in, already a big-hearted, dear dog!!! Feels sometimes like Love is a Muscle…and once you’ve loved this way, we find it very easy to love this big again. I’m so happy for you! One day we’ll have a ? that will be your Otis. :) Thank you Wendy for the encouraging words, and for seconding the permission to give life our full attention.
      My best to you!

      May 23, 2013
  29. I’m so sorry to read about Luke, spree.. he seems such a sweet companion. I hope he is still at your side? We lost our pupster just after we returned home from Italy. He was waiting for us to all be together I think. Dogs are much wiser than they are sometimes given credit for I think. His eyes told us to let him go but it was the most difficult decision. I know you feel deeply, for your heart is big enough to keep all of us tucked inside.. you’re in my heart spree.. and I’m sending love and hugs to you. xxxx oooo

    May 26, 2013
  30. This beautiful being leaves a giant pawprint of steadfast, enduring Love. If I ever need to remind myself what Unwavering Trust means, I can look to Luke. He reverberates with unending Presence.

    You unfailingly lifted my heart. You touched my spirit with Greatness. My animal so needed your kind of animal. Buddy, it has been an awesome privilege.

    May 31, 2013
  31. So hard to say goodbye to our faithful and true companions.

    June 12, 2013
    • Yes, so very hard Kat. Thank you for leaving your kind comment!

      June 13, 2013
  32. What a fascinating picture.

    June 23, 2013
  33. settleandchase #

    Oh what a lovely boy..I am so sad for you, sending thoughts your way. Light always shines out from your page, and I always feel your open heart here. I am too a sensitive soul and I know both the joy and weight of it. Don’t feel bad for taking time!

    June 28, 2013
    • Cath, I could only begin to express how touched I was by your comment. I know of your tender and sensitive heart and in your work have seen both the joy and the weight of it. We’ve just lost another member of our family too – this a beloved sister-in-law, so these days are a weighty time for us. Thank you so much for the compassion you offered here, friend.

      July 6, 2013

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